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Will Windows 7 be Another Vista? (We Say No)

There's a very brief scene in an old episode of "The Simpsons" in which a couple of guys, presumably brothers, are fuming at each other over the impending demise of their restaurant, dubbed Two Guys from Kabul. At one point, one brother looks at the other and barks, "Sometimes, I think you want to fail!"

We thought of that little moment this week when reports started to surface that IT managers wouldn't be lined up to deploy Windows 7 like tweens camping out outside the ticket booth for Jonas Brothers concert. Presumably, we're supposed to be aghast that a survey by KACE shows that 83 percent of IT professionals don't plan to implement Windows 7 in the operating system's first year of release.

This is dire, dire news, apparently, if we're to believe the pundits, some of whom have already begun to equate Windows 7 with Vista before the new OS has even had the chance to appear in release-candidate form. Here's where that "Simpsons" bit comes in, with a little twist: Sometimes, we think these people want Microsoft to fail.

Microsoft partners, of course, don't want Microsoft to fail. IT professionals probably don't, either, given that most of them have major investments in Microsoft technology. So it's up to a few journalists, some bloggers and some fringe Linux and Mac types to cheer for Redmond's demise. And news that only 17 percent of IT professionals plan to adopt Windows 7 in its first year sure sounds like a Vista-style debacle.

Or does it? According to some measurements, Vista had only about 10 percent enterprise market share more than two years after its release. Even those organizations that place Vista's market share at closer to an almost unfathomable 30 percent admit that most of that number comes from consumers and that the enterprise has never warmed to the forlorn follow-up to XP.    

So, if Windows 7 really does achieve even 15 percent in enterprise adoption in its first year after release, it will, by at least some measures, be more or less blowing Vista's two-year numbers out of the water. But wait; there's more: the KACE survey said that 42 percent of IT pros plan to implement Windows 7 from 12 to 24 months after its release. That's "only" 42 percent, according to some pundits.

"Only" 42 percent? Seriously? If Windows 7 has anywhere close to 40 percent enterprise market share two years after its release, it will have already made customers and partners (and Microsoft, maybe) forget about Vista. A further 24 percent said of IT folks said they would deploy Windows 7 within two to three years if its release. If all those numbers pan out, that could give Windows 7 60-plus percent market share within three years.

Of course, that's not likely to happen. For one thing, Linux adoption is growing in the enterprise, as is adoption of the Mac OS. Microsoft isn't just competing with itself, so 42 percent of IT pros saying that they'll implement Windows 7 doesn't necessarily translate to 42 percent market share. And for another, it's hard to say whether these surveys will even come close to panning out numbers-wise. Our guess is that the percentages in this one will end up being a little high when the corporate money actually starts to roll out in the next few years.

Microsoft's market dominance with Windows might not last forever. But we've had a lot of positive feedback on Windows 7, and the dire predictions coming out of some quarter based on survey numbers that just don't look that bad to us seem premature at best. Or maybe wishful, depending on who, exactly, wants Microsoft to fail.

What's your timeframe for adopting Windows 7? Do you already feel better about it than you felt about Vista? Sound off at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 04/14/2009 at 1:22 PM


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